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Ingram v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 19, 2019

EDMUND INGRAM, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., SIDDIQUI, ASSELMEIER, GAIL WALLS, JOHN BALDWIN, JACQUELINE LASHBROOK, FRANK LAWRENCE, LOUIS SHICKER, JOHN DOE #1, JANE DOE #1, and JOHN DOE #2, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Edmund Ingram, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendants were deliberately indifferent under the Eighth Amendment to his broken tooth. He also alleges Defendants' actions amounted to intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of a complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: On January 18, 2019, while Plaintiff was eating in the dining hall, he chipped his lower back tooth. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff informed the gallery officer who stated that he contacted a nurse and Plaintiff was placed on the dental list. Plaintiff also put in a sick call request slip as he was in constant pain. (Id. at pp. 10, 25). Although IDOC rules require that an inmate be seen by a nurse within three days of an inmate submitting a sick call request, Plaintiff alleges that he was not seen in a timely fashion due to overcrowding at Menard and understaffing of the healthcare and dental units. During this time, Plaintiff continued to suffer from pain, he could not sleep or eat on the side where the broken tooth was located, and the tooth cut his tongue, causing it to bleed.

         Plaintiff spoke with a nurse during the 7-3 shift on January 19, 2019, and the nurse informed him that he would be placed on the list to see dental staff. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Plaintiff put in another sick call request on January 19, 2019, but he was not seen for sick call. He spoke with John Doe #1, the 5-gallery officer on the 7-3 shift, on January 20, 2019. (Id.). He showed him his broken tooth and bloody mouth. John Doe #1 told Plaintiff that he contacted the healthcare unit, and Plaintiff was on the dental list. Plaintiff does not believe, however, that John Doe #1 actually contacted the healthcare unit because he returned to Plaintiff's cell too quickly. (Id. at p. 11).

         Plaintiff also contacted John Doe #2 Lieutenant by letter and informed him of his broken tooth. He also spoke with John Doe #2 when he made rounds and showed him the tooth. John Doe #2 told him to “man up” and informed Plaintiff that there was only one dentist at Menard, and he could not see everyone at once. (Id. at p. 11). John Doe #2 refused to contact the healthcare unit for Plaintiff. (Id. at p. 12).

         Plaintiff continued to send in sick call requests slips for dental care on January 21, 22, and 23, 2019, but he was not seen by a nurse on sick call. (Doc. 1, p. 12). He did speak to two nurses about his tooth; they informed him that he would be put on the dental list but that he would not be seen soon because there was only one dentist. The nurses told him that there was a thirty day wait for a tooth to be pulled, a sixty to ninety day wait for a filling, and a two-year wait for a dental cleaning. (Id. at p. 13).

         Plaintiff submitted an emergency grievance seeking to be seen by a dentist on January 23, 2019, but Jacqueline Lashbrook deemed the grievance not an emergency. (Doc. 1, pp. 14, 38-39). He also sent letters to Jacqueline Lashbrook, Dr. Siddiqui, the dentist Asselmeier, John Baldwin, Medical Director Louis Shicker, Frank Lawrence, and Healthcare Unit Administrator Gail Walls asking for dental care for his broken tooth. (Doc 1, pp. 14, 16, 21-22, 24; 1-1, pp. 1, 3, 5, and 7). Plaintiff never received a response to any of his letters. (Id. at p. 15). On February 6, 2019, he spoke with a nurse on the 3-11 shift. When he informed her that he had been writing letters seeking care, she acknowledged that she was aware of the letters but that he would be seen when he was called by the healthcare unit. She told him to stop writing letters. (Id. at p. 15).

         Plaintiff alleges that the delay in receiving care for his broken tooth is a result of Wexford Health Sources, Inc.'s policy of understaffing the dental and healthcare unit at Menard. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff alleges that Menard has over 3, 000 inmates. but Wexford only provides one dentist and understaffs the healthcare unit's medical staff. (Id.). As a result of this policy, Plaintiff experienced delays in seeing medical staff after he submitted sick call slips and ultimately experienced delays in being seen by dental staff for his broken tooth. Plaintiff alleges that Baldwin, Shicker, and Lashbrook were aware of systemic problems in the healthcare unit due to overcrowding and understaffing, but failed to remedy these issues.

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following five counts:

Count 1: John Doe #1, John Doe #2, and Jane Doe Nurse #1 were deliberately indifferent under the Eighth Amendment by delaying dental care for Plaintiff's broken tooth.
Count 2: Jacqueline Lashbrook, Dr. Siddiqui, Asselmeier, John Baldwin, Medical Director Louis Shicker, Frank Lawrence, and Healthcare Unit Administrator Gail Walls were deliberately indifferent under the Eighth Amendment by delaying ...

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